First place up for grabs as KKR eye hat-trick of wins in DC tie - GulfToday

First place up for grabs as KKR eye hat-trick of wins in DC tie

Delhi Capitals

Delhi Capitals' players train for another important match against KKR in Sharjah.

Mohammad Abdullah, Staff Reporter

A resurgent Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) will look to clinch a hat-trick of wins in their top-of-the-table Indian Premier League (IPL) clash against Delhi Capitals (DC) to be played in Sharjah on Saturday.

Delhi and Kolkata both have procured two wins each from three games and are presently perched on the second and third rungs of the IPL ladder respectively.

With two consecutive wins, Kolkata catapulted to third spot from the bottom of the standings. They defended a total of 174/6 runs against batting powerhouse Rajasthan Royals (RR) in their last match after beating Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) by seven wickets in their second match this season.

Kolkata’s bowlers, led by Shivam Mavi, put up an excellent performance to thwart Rajasthan, who had chased down a record total 223 against Kings XI Punjab in their previous match.

It was pace spearhead Australia’s Pat Cummins, who triggered RR’s collapse with the prize wicket of Steve Smith. While Mavi applied the pressure with 2 wickets to claim the man of the match award, Kamlesh Nagarkoti and Varun Chakravarthy turned on the screws to take KKR to the finishing line.

All the bowlers chipped in with useful contributions, not letting the Rajasthan batsmen to settle down. So disciplined was their effort that eight of the Rajasthan batsmen could not manage to reach even double-figures.

Kolkata captain Dinesh Karthik is likely to repeat his six-pronged bowling attack strategy against Delhi. Karthik used his bowlers randomly in small spells, thus not allowing the Rajasthan batsmen to get used to any of them. Though most of the front-line bowlers did not finish their four-over quota, including Cummins, the strategy bore rich dividends. However, Kolkata’s batting remains a concern. The top order, including Karthik, has not been clicking. Sunil Narine and Nitish Rana are yet to come up with substantial contributions. Moreover, a lot needs to be done by the usually-dependable Eoin Morgan and fiery Andre Russell.

Meanwhile, Delhi Capitals will be looking to bounce back after suffering their first defeat in the current campaign against Hyderabad.

However, their bowling coach Ryan Harris has ruled out any need to press the panic button after their solitary defeat.

“It was an unlucky loss, we just weren’t at our best for that game against Hyderabad. But, there’s no need to panic as of now,” said Harris during a virtual press conference on Friday.

“If you look back at it, a couple of balls were a little bit of a miss when we were bowling, and Hyderabad  probably ran better between the wickets, we didn’t run as well. But 15 runs is not a huge gap,” said Harris about their margin of loss against Hyderabad.

He also said Delhi are expecting a tough game against Kolkata. In their head-to-head record, Kolkata have emerged winners 13 times in 23 meetings.

“They are a pretty good side and are playing good cricket, with some big names in their line-up. We are still pondering our options of how to contain their batsmen and are planning a strategy to face their bowlers as well,” he revealed.

Harris is expecting a high-scoring game at the iconic Sharjah Cricket Stadium, which has shorter boundaries and where the pitch supports the batsmen.

“Obviously, it’s a new ground for us and there have been pretty high-scoring games. So we are working on this aspect of the match.”

Harris also dropped a hint about the inclusion of Ravichandran Ashwin in their next game. Ashwin picked up an injury and is still doubtful for the Kolkata match.

“He’s doing well. He had a really good session last night with the ball, bat and in the field. So he might be available for selection against Kolkata. But we are still waiting for our medical staff’s confirmation this evening,” he concluded,

Commenting on the visibly tough competitions in the initial few matches of IPL 2020, he said: “Coming into the tournament, everyone was saying the same thing that there are no clear favourites this season. I think the competition this year is probably the closest that I can remember and I’ve been involved in a few seasons overall.”

“I think everyone virtually agrees they are going to be close. The games that come down to the wire are the ones you need to win to make sure you’re in those playoff spots or in the top-two positions,” he added.

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